The Oregon football team has been back at it this week after three days of relaxation. With a bye week this past weekend, Oregon now looks forward to its first conference game against California.
However, both quarterback Marcus Mariota and head coach Mark Helfrich emphasize that the team is not treating this game different just because it is the first conference game of the season for the Ducks.
“We’re continuing to take it one day at a time, the same as we have been,” Mariota said. “Just because it’s Cal, just because it’s conference doesn’t mean that we’re going to take this week of preparation any different.”
Oregon currently has a 2.3 turnover margin, the second best in the FBS, just behind Miami. The Ducks are the only team in the country that has yet to turn over the ball yet this season. Oregon hopes to continue the positive ratio this weekend.
“We can talk about the things that contribute to that. That’s a big deal. The turnover margin and scoring points off turnovers is the number one contributing factor of winning and losing,” Helfrich said. “That’s the biggest stat in football. There’s a couple more that are almost as important, that are weird, but turning the ball over or not, and scoring off of turnovers is key. And so we’re going to keep hammering what we’ve been hammering for sure.”
Another statistic that is a big factor for Saturday’s game is the amount of plays expected from California. In their first three games of the season they have had 284 plays, whereas Oregon has only had 216. Both teams have fast-paced tempos and are projected to have very little delays between plays.
The Ducks plan to handle California’s offense with a tight frontline in the pocket against freshman quarterback Jared Goff. Saturday will be Goff’s first road game and the Ducks hope to use that to their advantage.
“It’s tough to play quarterback. It’s the toughest position in each sport, and there’s the thread of guys that look like Arik Armstead tackling you,” Helfrich said. “Part of that is just our effort and how we run, and if we’re rushing three guys and it seems like four or five, then that’s a great job.
“But that’s the object of any defense against any player that’s any year in school. If the guy was a fifth-year senior, you still want to put pressure on him.”